a bit at a loss here. too many things to mention.
let's start with the more pressing and annoying--the getting of Japanese Drivers License.
ok. so after a year of driving with the International Drivers License, Japanese government requests that foreigners change their license to the Japanese one. Easy, right? not so much. For most nationals this would require a trip (or two) to Okinawa's capitol, Naha, standing in a couple of lines, filling out paperwork, paying nearly 70$, standing in a couple of more lines, waiting for a couple of hours, and then coming back on another day to receive a brand new japanese license!
for Americans, as well as Brazilians, South Africans, and a handful of other nationals the process is a wee bit more dragged out. We actually have to take the written and practical tests to receive the coveted piece of plastic. No big, you'd think. Make an appointment, show up, fill out paperwork, take the tests. Easy.
Ah, but what's the rush, my friend? Why not go once to fill out the paperwork. Second time (and only on a wednesday) to take a 10 question T/F test, come back again (again only on a Wednesday) and take the driving test. Pass?! Great! Come back again, mon ami, watch a video and get your license. Four trips to the capital..if you're lucky. More than likely, you will fail the driving test and will have to come back again and again to retake it. It is actually recommended that foreigners pay 50$ to go to a driving school for an afternoon to better their chances of passing the test. But why is it so hard? you might ask. I've been driving in Okinawa for a year and I've been driving in my home country far longer than that, what's the difficulty in passing a test, one that doesn't even require parallel parking?
A few. First, please be sure to check under the car for animals and children, then readjust the mirrors several times, don't forget to look over your shoulder a few times as you drive on a encloased course with no other cars, also when you speed up to the required 40km/hr and then have to turn right, please drop your speed within seconds to below 20km/hr in order to take the turn. When deciding to change lanes, first check your blind spot then turn on blinker then proceed to move (i've been trying to practice that while driving and always fail. am i wrong or must one first turn on blinker then check blindspot?)...and so on and so forth.
So i've been down to Naha twice already; took the paper test which was a complete joke and more aggrivating that it was so easy because i had to spend 4 hours in the car to get there and back. I can't take the driving test until i get back from the States, so wish me luck then. Hopefully i'll pass but more than likely not. Nearly 100$ spent already and counting.
In other news. Summer vacation has arrived! Today was last day of classes and students cleared out their desks and classroom nooks. That used to be my favorite part of finishing a school semester or year--going through all the paper and tossing 90% of them out. Ok, lying. I have tons of papers, but some came in handy. For instance, i kept my notebook from 9th grade U.S. history and used the outlines from it when i taught the same class last year at Bayview HS.
Last week we watched fireworks in Motobu at Ocean Expo Park. This was the 30th year of the fireworks and instead of the usual 5,000, 10,000 fireworks were shot from two locations off the coast. The first part of the show was done in sync to music and the second, more spectacular part was only accompanied by the "ooohs" and "aaaahs" of the enchanted crowd. They were truly the best fireworks i have ever seen.
I've signed the new contract for the upcoming JET year! Something ritualistic about that.
I am missing out on several festivals when i go home next week to visit family and friends. The most dissapointing will be the Ogimi festival; it's nowhere near the biggest or coolest but it's our own and it would have been cooler this year 'cause i actually know many more people and over a hundred kids by name.
Happy Birthday yesterday to David Crennen. I hosted a small dinner party and made mashpotatoes, a japanese style salad, and we each cooked our own Aussie steaks. 'twas delicious and then the three of us watched, "Run Lola Run." Good times. The cake was great too, as it should be, as i am the best cakegetter.
Saw "Superman Returns" the other day on base. Not bad, actually. i don't know much about the whole Superman saga. Just that he's super but as any hero has a weak spot...for a certain lady. nah, kryptonite.
Am really looking forward to the Pirates film which will be at Schwab on Monday.
I went to DFS yesterday. It's a store in Naha where one can only shop with an airplane ticket as it is all duty free. Well, not all, there's a small shop with local gifts and that's where i went. But i had to walk through the rest of the complex to get there. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Burberry, BLVGARI all fancy shmancy cosmetic lines, Rolex, Cartier, Tiffany & co. and so on and so forth. Clean, fancy, sophisticated and way too rich for my blood, of course. It was a world of magazine covers and impecable dress. It was too much and yet I was drawn to the lights, the flare, the colors. Why do we need items to reaffirm status, or better yet, why would someone who intellectually can reason through a need for a status item can still be drawn by it. How much are we affected by advertising and glitter, and why even awareness of the gimmick can't protect us from it?
I tried on a pair of Oakleys, and i actually really wanted to buy them. A practical purchase on a island with blaring sun. But my international ticket was no good; i had to have one that first made a stop on mainland Japan. Foiled again.
the DFS in Okinawa also has a Food Colloseum which is a cool spot.
So many things to do before leaving. I have to pack and clean my aparto. People might be staying there while visiting the north. on Saturday I am going to Ie island with some teachers and parents and then in the evening there is the Block 1 goodbye party in Nago. Sunday i am driving south again to work at the examination of future high school English teachers. Monday i have to transfer the gold fish from my apartment to the school so that Noriko-san can take care of them while i'm away....and a few other little things, like changing money and paying bills.
Perhaps i'll write a blog while visiting home. wouldn't exactly be fitting with the title of the blog but hey.